Can a Cheese Diet Ward Off Type 2 Diabetes?

Another day, another study that claims to have information to help us in the fight against diabetes. This one is from researchers at the Oxford and Imperial College London and they suggest that a diet high in cheese could be beneficial in warding off type 2 diabetes. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that people who ate 56g of fermented dairy products a day, i.e. cheese, are 12% less likely to develop diabetes than those who eat little amounts of cheese, or none at all. This study is the largest in Europe to look at a correlation between what we eat and our health. The study used data collected from nearly 350,000 people, from eight countries in Europe. It went on to compare the diets of 12,403 people who then went on to develop diabetes with 16,835 randomly chosen people.

Cheese is not typically considered to be a healthy food as it contains high levels of saturated fats, but it is these ‘rich’ fats that scientists are suggesting could be the key in triggering a positive ‘fermentation process’ in the body. This is apparently what helps to protect against diet-related conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. However, the results appear to differ from country to country as the NHS has pointed out that people in France who eat more cheese had a decreased risk of diabetes, whereas in the UK, where we eat less cheese, the risk of diabetes was higher. The NHS Choices also advise that there is a tenuous link between cheese and the decreased risk of diabetes and it is not a cause-and-effect relationship.

Looking more closely into the study of cheese and diabetes, it is not apparent whether the fermented dairy products mentioned in the research were low-fat, high-fat or indeed, even what type of cheese they were. The researchers themselves concur that the study needs further investigation, commenting that, “this large prospective study found no association between total dairy product intake and diabetes risk. An inverse association of cheese intake and combined fermented dairy product intake with diabetes is suggested, which merits further study.” And Diabetes UK have stepped in to advise people who have or who are at risk of contracting diabetes to hold off eating more cheese until more results and research has become available.

Dr Iain Frame, director of research, told the Telegraph: “It is too simplistic to concentrate on individual foods. We recommend a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and low in salt and fat. This study gives us no reason to believe that people should change their dairy intake in an attempt to avoid the condition.”

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